Tif tif god laugh

This phrase is taken from English Creole. It means a thief steals from another thief, god looks and laughs. How does it apply to our current situation? For a start a lot of the material and human resources that has been used to develop this and other countries originated from elsewhere. This is a practice that has existed since the advent of man on our planet. Nowadays we use euphemisms like market forces, globalisation etc to justify using ideas or resources that originated from somewhere else.


There is nothing wrong in this. However, some countries will go out of their way to make conditions almost impossible for others to use the self same methods that got them to the top. According to HJ Chang in the “Bad Samaritans” this is analogous to getting to the top and kicking the ladder so that others cannot follow the example that you used to rise.


Protectionism is an anathema to purveyors of free trade but they had no qualms about protecting certain industries until they were strong enough to compete on the world stage. Guilty of this are the U.S and U.K. There is probably no greater evangelist of free trade than these two anywhere in the world. China “borrowed” the philosophy of protectionism until their economy became strong enough to compete with others on a global level.

The U.S in particular accuses China of protectionism. Is this a fair criticism or is it sour grapes because the Chinese refuse to dance to their tune?


Nearly all the developed economies have been guilty of protectionism in the past. If your industries are weak in certain areas how else do you expect to raise your standards to compete with the big boys without any initial protection? Anyhow, you know what they say about people in glass houses.

If an idea has proved successful in one scenario, within the confines of copyright laws, there is no harm in using it elsewhere. Take universities for example, it was originally the brain child of Islam but its utility has been very valuable to others. There is a direct correlation between the development of these faculties and economic development.


Most people are concerned with the utility of knowledge than its epistemology. They are more concerned about how it applies to their everyday lives than worry about its nature or origins. Let academics philosophise about its nooks and crannies. The average person is only concerned with how it can be used and do not mind being called a thief or plagiarist in the process.

Take modern architecture for example. The same could be said for any knowledge. There is nothing original about it. Physicists and other scientists study nature(something that has evolved or was created by a supreme being – depending on which side of the fence you sit) and try to postulate theories to describe how things relate to each other. Those things have an organic existence. They have always been there. Studying them does not suddenly bring them into existence.

An alchemist can make a concoction that can result in a seemingly new substance. Stripped down to its individual elements, there is nothing new about the substance. By that token only the Almighty could be said to have had an original idea. No doubt an atheist would have a thing or two to say about this.


People take information that already exists and give it another twist. They do not exists in a vacuum. Everybody is the some total of their experiences. The pioneers of modern art,architecture etc are using knowledge of their forefathers as the basis. Their forefathers in turn are using knowledge of the people before them and this goes on till the advent of man.

A lot of what we take for granted today, were “borrowed” from the Romans who in turn “borrowed” a lot of things from ancient Greece and Egypt. The list goes on.

The cross pollination of knowledge amongst humans is something that has always existed. Trade, conquests etc are not solely an interchange of goods, land or people.

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